26 March 2014

Blizzard of 1888

This winter simply will not give up. Here it is; the end of March and we still have temperatures in the single digits! As Eastern Massachusetts is being presently being slammed with a blizzard, this reminds me of stories that my grandfather mentioned to me that were passed to him from his Aunt about the Blizzard of 1888. Massive snow piles and no where to put the snow in Albany. Remember there were no plows back then!

Beginning on March 11, 1888 and for the next three days the East coast was paralyzed with one of the most severe Nor'easters ever recorded. The storm became known as the Great White Hurricane. Approximately 48 inches of snow fell in Albany and the city felt the effects of 50 mph winds. Railroads shut down and people were confined and stuck in their homes for days. A picture below says a thousand words!

18 March 2014

Online Family Trees

Since I came back to researching my roots I instantly found that the Internet has greatly expanded the reach of the genealogist.  Numerous paid online sites such as Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Geneanet allow subscribers to search and access their holdings for genealogical gold.  These sites and other web pages also allow their users to upload family trees for either public or private viewing.  These online family trees have both pros and cons to them.

I use all of the above mentioned sites.  My family information is public except for the data on living people.  I will not publicize any vital data on any of my living relatives.  My online tree is public so that I can easily share my information with anyone researching the same families or individuals.  Hopefully my available info will prompt another researcher to contact me.  Some researchers call this "cousin baiting."  Data is posted and other genealogists find it and then contact the tree owner.   I do this to lure other researchers to my tree and perhaps we find common ancestors/relatives and then we can collaborate.  So far I have been successful finding other cousins who are also researching their lines.  Using the MyHeritage site, I have found numerous cousins in the Netherlands who are researching the same lines as myself.  This was accomplished with their "smart matches."

At the same time using the same online sites can have cons also.  The biggest con that I have found is incorrect data on the Internet.  New genealogists need to realize that just because they found their ancestor on the Internet does not make the new found data correct.  The information definitely could be but not always.  There is a lot of misinformation on the Net.  Aside from obviously wrong data such as a child being born well after the death of his/her mother,  I have seen other people's data on websites and they list their ancestors under nicknames.  Perhaps they did not know their ancestor's real name?

Unsourced information is another dilemma on the Net.  Where did the researcher find this information? Did the info come from a marriage record, census record, bible record, or an interview? Another genealogist may want to recheck the record for accuracy or look for other information that might have been missed.

On Ancestry I found incorrect data on some of my ancestors on other researcher's trees.  I contacted the owner's of these trees to explain their error.  Some individuals were very glad to correct their data.  Others simply have ignored my notes to them and the wrong data stays in cyberspace for others to find.  Unfortunately no one except the tree owner can correct or remove the data.

Another dilemma that I have read about and have experience with is other researchers taking your data without giving credit to the original researcher.  On blogs and forums that I read, some researchers are vehement about not posting their family tree online for fear that someone may take their information and use it as their own.  I do not fear that issue.  I welcome anyone to view and use my data.  It would be nice if they did give credit to me in their work; but if they  do not so be it.  I posted many photos of my ancestors on Ancestry and I have been notified numerous times that another user attached my photo to their tree.  I am glad when this occurs but always question myself as to why these people do not contact me for more information.

I have not dealt with this issue yet but I have heard that it can be difficult to delete your online tree on certain sites.  I do not understand why it would be difficult to do this? But that is what I have read.  If I were to guess; perhaps their subscription expired and now they want to remove their tree.  Without having a current account, I would not expect a subscription site to let someone update the account.  I believe that if the account is valid then the user should be able to alter, change, or delete the information at will.  Perhaps I am wrong?

02 March 2014

Russian Winter Festival

An upcoming local cultural event is on slate at Proctor's in Schenectady on Saturday March 8, 2014.  Details for the event are below

Winter festival honors Russian culture with music, crafts and food.

Don’t miss the Grand Finale of the 6th Annual Russian Winter Festival at Proctors! A day of Russian music, folk art and food - pancakes and caviar in particular. Russian culture is celebrated during the closing day of a monthlong festival.

The Russian Winter Festival has roots dating back to the pagan era. In Russia, the festival goes by the name Maslenitsa, a weeklong celebration meant to signify the end of the winter. The festival gives Capital Region a taste of cultural tradition. The celebration might be thought of as a Russian Mardi Gras or Carnival but has a few quirks specific to the Russians, the most important being the blini - Russian pancakes.

The headlining group at this year's festival is Art-Trio Volnitsa from Moscow known to play both improvised and arranged music, giving them a sound described "as a Russian take on jazz." The group performs popular Russian folk songs tied to the spirit of the celebration and its historic background.

What else is to enjoy at the festival?

The art exhibitions, “Remembring Russia” by Tatiana Rhinevault and the Soviet propaganda posters. Contests: Best Braided Hairdo and Russian Poetry Recital. People can dress up in costumes inspired by traditional clothing and get their photos taken. Among the other learning opportunities featured at the finale, the Third Rifle Division Association, a reenacting group, portrays a typical squad of a World War II Russian rifle division.

Check Proctor's website for more details